Florida Erb’s Palsy Attorneys
After nine months of pregnancy, discovering that your newborn was injured during the birthing process can be devastating. It gets even worse when you learn the injury was caused by negligence and could have been prevented if the healthcare practitioner involved, whether doctor, nurse, technician, assistant, or hospital, had provided the proper standard of care to both you and your baby.
At Paul Knopf Bigger, our Florida Erb’s Palsy attorneys have years of experience in successfully pursuing medical malpractice claims for children injured at birth. We have won multi-million-dollar settlements and jury awards to compensate parents for their child’s medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other damages that were caused by medical negligence during the birthing process.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy (also known as Erb-Duchenne Palsy) is not a disease, but a condition caused by damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerve fibers that run through the spine beginning at the neck. The fibers control movement, flexibility, and feelings in the arm, hand, and fingers.
The damage almost always occurs when the newborn’s shoulder catches on the mother’s hip during the birthing process. When the nerves are damaged, the resulting condition ranges from total and permanent paralysis of one arm and hand to slight arm weakness that resolves within a few months of birth.
Newborns suffering from Erb’s Palsy are almost always victims of medical negligence that occurred during the birthing process. A child with Erb’s Palsy may never recover normal use of his or her affected arm.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s Palsy is often noticed immediately after birth. In some cases, the condition is observed during the first few months of life. Symptoms include:
- The newborn is unable to move one arm or part of the arm. The arm hangs limply at the baby’s side.
- The newborn has no grip or decreased grip in the hand of the affected arm.
- As time goes by, the muscles in the arm atrophy.
- The baby loses motor function in the arm.
- The newborn, and child as he or she develops, has no feeling in the arm, yet gets a burning sensation that causes various levels of discomfort.
As children with Erb’s Palsy develop, they may be unable to participate in some games or sports. This can result in bullying from other children who do not understand the condition.
Categories of Erb’s Palsy
There are four different categories of Erb’s Palsy, depending on its severity:
- Neuropraxia. This is the mildest form. It generally heals within three months. During that time, the newborn may experience discomfort, including burning pain.
- Neuroma. Although long-term recovery is incomplete, surgery may improve the condition. The child suffers from discomfort and burning sensations in addition to limited use of the limb.
- Rupture. This injury cannot heal on its own and requires surgery to repair a torn nerve. It is a complicated surgery where the surgeon takes part of a nerve from another part of the body and grafts it to the damaged one. Recovery may or not be complete, but some feeling and mobility should return.
- Avulsions. This is the most severe form and occurs when the nerve has been completely severed from the spinal cord. Surgical intervention is required with the goal of returning some feeling and mobility. Surgery may not be successful, and the arm may remain paralyzed for life.
All categories of Erb’s Palsy require physical therapy. If surgery is required, physical therapy is required both before and after surgery. Sometimes, multiple surgeries are required.
Causes of Erb’s Palsy
There are many possible causes of Erb’s Palsy. The main ones include:
- Maternal obesity and excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy.
- Gestational diabetes resulting in a larger than normal baby.
- Underestimating the baby’s birth weight before birth and therefore failing to schedule a cesarean delivery to avoid complications.
- Improper use of birthing tools. When forceps and vacuum extractors are used, the baby is forcibly removed from the birth canal. If these tools are improperly used, the result can be injury to the infant’s neck and shoulder.
- The second stage of labor allowed to last too long. This stage is the “pushing” stage and puts the baby in danger of brachial plexus injury and Erb’s Palsy.
- Breech birth. The baby’s feet are born first, and in some cases, the baby’s arms are raised over its head making injury more likely.
- Delayed action when confronted with delivery complications.
Almost 100 percent of Erb’s Palsy cases in newborns are caused by medical negligence during the birthing process. Whether the doctor and/or labor and delivery team failed to take the appropriate action, used birthing tools improperly, or did not schedule a necessary C-section, and their inaction or action led to your child suffering from Erb’s Palsy, you may be able to hold the responsible healthcare providers accountable and obtain substantial financial compensation. The experienced birth injury attorneys at Paul Knopf Bigger can help you determine your best course of action and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf.
Florida Erb’s Palsy Medical Malpractice Claims
To prevail with a Florida medical malpractice claim, you must prove four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
- Duty. The healthcare provider(s) you claim was negligent had a duty to provide your child the standard of care commonly provided by a practitioner of the same specialty. Healthcare providers who can be held liable include doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, the hospital, and anyone who was involved in any way with the birthing process and whose care was below the standard of care provided by other similar practitioners in the same community.
- Breach. The healthcare provider(s) breached his or her duty and failed to provide the proper standard of care during the birthing process.
- Causation. The healthcare provider’s failure to provide the proper standard of care was the direct cause of harm to your child. You must prove that the harm could have been avoided if the provider had not been negligent.
- Damages. The breach of the duty which caused the harm resulted in damages to your child. Under Florida law, damages include economic losses such as medical expenses and loss of future wages, as well as non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering and diminished capacity to enjoy life.
Proving that the obstetrician and/or other healthcare providers breached their duty and that the breach led to your child’s injury is a long, complicated process. A successful Erb’s Palsy malpractice claim requires thoroughly investigating all the details of the case, having comprehensive knowledge of all the facts, enlisting high quality expert testimony and demonstrating expertise as a trial lawyer.
The medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger have the experience, knowledge and commitment necessary to skillfully handle your child’s Erb’s Palsy malpractice case. We have won numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and awards for our clients who have been injured by medical negligence and have the expertise you need to win your child’s case.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Erb’s Palsy Malpractice Cases
The statute of limitations for all medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida is two years from the date the malpractice occurred, was discovered or should have been discovered. The absolute latest date allowed for the discovery of the malpractice to have occurred is four years from the date the initial medical negligence occurred.
In cases involving children, the law does allow suing up until the eighth birthday as long as the parents were not expected to have known about the injury and the possibility that it was caused by medical malpractice. However, this extension is typically not applicable to Erb’s Palsy cases, since parents are aware of the injury soon after birth.
Proven, Successful Florida Erb’s Palsy Malpractice Attorneys
Successful Erb’s Palsy malpractice cases require the expertise of accomplished trial attorneys, the resources of a successful law firm and the commitment of attorneys who are passionate about achieving justice for their injured clients. The team of Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Paul Knopf Bigger have the commitment, experience and resources you can trust to fight for justice and win your child’s malpractice case.
Other law firms throughout Florida and across the U.S. trust our team to handle their clients’ complex Florida medical malpractice claims. If your child suffers from Erb’s Palsy because of medical malpractice, we are the attorneys you too can trust to provide the high-quality representation, personal attention and results you want.
Call us at 800-673-9585 or submit the “Free Case Evaluation” form on our website for a free consultation with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney you can rely on for excellence in the pursuit of justice.